OTT Devices Now Tops in Ad-View Share: FreeWheel

Illustrating that the TV screen still matters despite the ongoing growth of viewing on mobile devices, Roku players and other TV-connected over-the-top devices are now tops in terms of ad view share, according to a new report from FreeWheel, the Comcast-owned multiscreen ad tech company.

OTT ad views have ballooned from 2% to 32% over the last four years, amid heavier investment by publishers and programmers on connected TV platforms, noted FreeWheel’s Video Monetization Report for the first quarter.

Smartphones and tablet ad views were steady during that span as they declined on desktops.


In Q1, nearly all the device growth came way of OTT devices and set-top VOD, which FreeWheel dubs the “new living room” platforms. Year on year, ad view composition and growth surged 45% on OTT devices and 33% on set-top VOD, while dropping 5% on desktops/PCs.

FreeWheel, which based its report on 200 billion video starts in 2016 and 59 billion video starts during Q1 2017, also found that 29% of all programmer ad views originated from “syndicated” platforms, including “long-tail” websites and multichannel video programming distributor platforms (TV Everywhere and virtual MVPD services).

Programmer ad views generated by MVPD products jumped 84% year-over-year, driven by improving TVE adoption and the emergence of new OTT TV players.

Taking a bigger-picture view, video starts and ad views grew 12% and 15%, respectively, in Q1.

Additionally, live streamed ad views made up nearly a quarter of all ad impressions, and achieved 47% year-over-year organic growth in the period, FreeWheel said.


Highlighting the OTT shift to premium-level fare, full-episode content locked in 60% of ad views, up 14%, while shorter video clips have been gradually declining in terms of both share and total impressions.

On the ad front, more automated, programmatic methods are taking hold. In Q1, FreeWheel observed a 6% rise in monetization via programmatic approaches, even as the vast majority of premium video advertising is still handled via the traditional direct sales model.